News7 In Depth


1.2 Million Americans got unauthorized 3rd COVID shot, CDC says

Posted at 9:57 PM, Aug 13, 2021

(WXYZ) — For many of us, it’s hard enough to keep track of one vaccine card, but now metro Detroiter Kent Straith has 2 of them.

"I've been hearing so much in the news about how the vaccine is starting to leak against the delta variant and other variants,” Straith said. "I knew that a booster is in my immediate future and I figured I would get it before there was a rush of humanity trying to get it at the same time.”

After getting two Moderna shots in Ohio during the spring, he went and got a Pfizer dose last week. It was his third COVID-19 vaccine shot this year.

“It went fine," Straith said. "I went into my local drug store a couple miles away and said I was here for a vaccine.”

After filling out a form, Straith got his shot despite already being fully vaccinated. While a 3rd booster shot was just approved for people with compromised immune systems, it has yet to be approved for the general public.

“At every turn, I was expecting there to be some sort of national database where they would say 'oh you can't do this,' but apparently not,” said Straith.

Vaccines given in Michigan are put into something called the MCIR system, but in an email, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said “there may be situations where access to our MCIR system was not available at the time of vaccination and verification could not occur and an additional dose might have been administered. This is not what is per CDC current recommendations and would be considered a medical error.”

“All the places that give vaccines have to put information in the MCIR, but they don’t have to put it in right away so there’s sometimes a backlog before it goes in,” said Dr. Matthew Sims, Director of Infectious Disease Research at Beaumont Health. “If somebody comes in and says 'no I haven't gotten it before,' I'm not sure they’re checking to see that.”

Dr. Sims says while not recommended, getting an extra shot shouldn’t pose an extra risk for those who had no adverse reaction with the first 2 doses.

“Generally speaking these are incredibly safe vaccines," Dr. Sims said. "When you got two they were safe, and when you get three it’s probably safe as well.”

The CDC estimates that roughly 1.2 million Americans like Straith already got a 3rd dose without approval, but the CDC’s Director says doing so makes their job harder.

"It does undermine our ability to monitor safety in these contexts," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. "We are asking people to follow our guidance.”

Current guidance allows a 3rd dose for those with weaker immune systems, and Dr. Sims says right now for those with a normal immune response, a third dose may be unnecessary.

“I'm all for boosters for non-immunocompromised if the data supports that it’s needed. I haven’t seen that yet,” Dr. Sims said. “Will it eventually improve their antibody levels? Sure. Will it make a clinical difference? Not clear.”

“The fever never came," Straith said about his 3rd dose. "I had a sore arm for a few days and all is well.”

Straith says he feels safer with his third dose and has no regrets about getting it early knowing there was plenty of supply.

“If the vaccine cops come after me, I'm easy to find," said Straith. "Take me away, but I won't be dying of COVID.”

Straith says he has his second Pfizer shot, which would be dose number 4, scheduled for later this month. As of now, he hasn’t decided whether he’s going to take it.